Thursday, August 29, 2013

Plum Organics

I recently took a little vacation from blogging (and from Los Angeles) but I am back and excited to share more of the stuff I've done and loved.

While I was away, I made sure to pack enough baby food to last the entire duration of our trip so my little Benjamin wouldn't be left without his yummies. And if there's one item that should be highlighted as a great choice, it would have to be the pouches of Plum Organics baby food.

I'll admit that before Baby Benny arrived, Paul and I would purchase similar fruit pouches to add to our lunches but we never tried this brand until our son started eating solids and we found ourselves looking through the aisles of baby food trying to pick the best stuff out there for our little one.

The first thing that caught my attention about this brand of baby food was the fact that it’s organic. Next was the great combination of fruits and veggies in one pouch! For example, Benny really seems to like broccoli and apple. I love that because there's a certain satisfaction in knowing that your baby is eating veggies and not just the fruity stuff! 

Benny enjoys having his meal straight out of the pouch although it makes for a messy experience…

There are also some awesome little spoons available that twist right onto the end of the pouch so that you can feed your baby with a spoon, without having to pour the contents of the pouch into a bowl for feeding.

Plum Organics was created by an American couple who, after finding out they were expecting, decided to devote their time toward creating a different type of baby food that would offer the little ones long-lasting health benefits. With the assistance of a pediatrician (friend of the family), they went out looking for good combinations of fresh, organic fruits and veggies that would provide nutritional value and a healthy, savory experience for babies.

The pouches aren’t too expensive (approximately $1.50 each) and they make for great on-the-go meals. I personally love the taste of the Zucchini, Banana & Amaranth Pouch. It's the best (sooo good).

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Monrovia Canyon Park

I never thought I would be lucky enough to see a real California bear with my own two eyes, up close and personal, while walking along a wilderness trail in a city close to my house. But it happened (and I may still be in shock)!
On a recent Sunday afternoon, we traveled with a group of out-of-town guests to the Monrovia Canyon Park, located in Monrovia, CA.

This is a park that has a lovely shaded hiking trail where you cross a few creeks, duck our heads under thick tree branches, walk about a mile uphill and finally experience the highlight of the park— its’ crisp, fresh waterfalls (which we’re not as abundant this time).

My cuties once we reached the not-so-amazing waterfall
On our way to the trail, just as we were getting ready to start our hike, a brown bear walked in front of us, crossed the street and walked up to an area resident’s backyard. Of course, I had my camera ready to click away but the shock, fear, excitement and overall craziness of seeing this bear made me freeze and forget to take pictures, of course. I did stop and pray for a moment that Benny wouldn’t catch the bear’s attention due to any residuals of banana and blueberry Gerber from earlier!

Fortunately, it didn’t happen.

Before entering the trail, signs warned us of bears, mountain lions and rattle snakes. No big deal, right?

Benny was so intrigued by Mother Nature! He would constantly raise his head and look at his surroundings without making a sound. He never once acted up, which made us decide to start planning more similar outings…

The Monrovia Canyon Park is a great weekend escape, not too complicated of a hike, easy enough to carry a young child but good enough to make you break a sweat by the time you reach the falls.

Address: 1200 N Canyon Blvd Monrovia, CA 91016

Parking: $5.00 but you can always avoid paying the fee if you leave your car outside of the park (longer walk but no expense!)

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Welcome Bag Party

And the countdown has begun! We are days away from celebrating my best friend's wedding! This will be Benny's first trip overseas (and yes, he has his very own passport). It will also be our first vacation since giving birth to our little joy.

Sheryl chose a destination wedding for her upcoming nuptials, giving us all a perfect reason to take a much needed vacation! I mean, really, have you ever thought about how people in this country are overworked, overwhelmed and stressed out of their minds?? We hardly give ourselves an opportunity to disconnect from the madness of work, traffic, routines and deadlines. A week in paradise spent with good people can actually help refresh the mind and relieve the stress.

So I thank Sheryl and her fiancee Deon for giving us all a chance to join them. With that said, Punta Cana (Dominican Republic)... here we come!
Oh, but before we could even think about getting on a plane, my lovely & thoughtful bestie planned something special for all her traveling guests.
Sheryl's in-laws, Roscoe and Floydell Carter hosted a summer party for the soon-to-be newlyweds a few weekends ago.

Benny gives Roscoe a quick glimpse of what it may be like to be a grandpa soon!

Sheryl took advantage of the opportunity to surprise us all with goodie bags.
But these weren't your typical goodie bags. These were personalized, engraved and generously stuffed goodie bags with all the toiletries and essentials one could possibly need during a beach vacation. Add to that a Dooney & Burke Wristlet, an engraved compact mirror and drink cup, plus a unique little bag for Benny with swimming clothes, travel toys and even a pool!

What a generous gesture. We're so glad to be a part of their special day and so grateful for all the love the bride and groom and their families offer (happiness)!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Books, books, books

Yes— There’s the Internet and Kindle and Nook and a bunch of new and upcoming reading devices to make life technologically simpler but I still enjoy holding and flipping through the pages of a real book (a paper book).

One of my bookshelves at home

Specifically, I love do-it-yourself guides and colorful lifestyle, recipe and picture filled books. So it should be of no surprise to anyone that when I came across Jessica Alba’s The Honest Life, on sale at Target, well…I bought it!

The Honest Life is a fun read with a bunch of craft and project ideas for the body, mind, the kiddos and the home. I was never a huge fan of Jessica (and that had nothing to do with my husband’s crush on her) but once she became a mommy, she became so much cooler and eventually won me over.

Among the many crafty ideas she offers, I plan on framing a nice piece of patterned fabric and possibly adding it to my office! 
The next book I'm currently finding myself pulling out of the shelf frequently is  by an author named Liza Tenzin- Dolma. This book basically features 30 meditations to help you find peace and awareness in the beauty of nature. In other words it gives you ideas on how to find nature as a spiritual refreshment. And if you're like me who believes in God and believes that His very presence is felt in the beauty of nature, then you'll love reading these insightful suggestions.

Third of all, I choose to share Bliss in a Box by Susan Piver. The book itself is found inside the neat little box with a magnetic lid. Also inside-- a set of index cards. These serve as your complete guide to plan, prepare and spend an entire weekend of cleansing and meditating at home-- so fun! I probably won't get a chance to do it for another couple of years-- but it's nice to read and only imagine...

Lastly, another of my favorite books is this amazing little treasure I picked up at an Estate Sale in Studio City a few years back. It's called Chin Deep In Bubbles-- Little luxuries for every day by Melissa Placzek. This book is such a treat! It offers so many recipes and tips for a good start to a beautiful day. Among the many things you'll learn to do-- an overnight soft hands treatment, your own garden mist potpourri and everything you need to create a rose petal dream bath!

I think anyone who takes the time to read is doing a good deed for themselves... and if you choose to indulge in any of the aforementioned booksies, then you'll surely enjoy (I hope).

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Costco Purchases

Part of the strategy for tackling so many womanly responsibilities at the same time involves thinking ahead and thinking in large quantities (I’ll explain in a bit).
If I’m going to work an 8-hour shift, spend time with my son to play, bathe, feed and read, take an hour to go to the gym, eat a healthy meal, prepare lunches for the next day, write a blog post and spend quiet time with Paul, well, by logic, something’s gotta give!

A sweet moment with Benny when he was 3 months
In my case, I’ve had to give up my beloved eight hours of sleep, I don't bother trying to keep the house clean every day; I no longer have phone conversations at home with friends and relatives, and I had to quit my amazing Crossfit Gym in Monrovia to join the UFC Gym in Rosemead  (which is pretty amazing too AND it offers child care services for up to two hours!!). I’ve also started working from home once a week, I've put my interior décor of the living room on hold and I make a weekly meal plan and stick to it. I no longer have time to prepare nice and time consuming home cooked meals (like Paul's favorite onion, blue cheese and sausage stuffed pasta!) I cannot get my regular mani-pedis or keep eyebrow threading and waxing appointments (but in a later post, I'll share how I've managed to still get these things done).

As far as thinking in large quantities, what I mean by that is: Costco. That is where I like to shop for healthy foods that make quick, tasty dinners as well as snacks that keep me going through the day. Since most things are sold in wholesale quantities, it’s not cheap but the good thing about Costco is that they offer coupons and if you have an Executive membership, you get a check at the end of your membership contract for an amount that equals 2% of the total purchases made throughout the year (for me, that was $21.00 last year, which isn't much but it covers at least our supply of vitamins). 

My picks for the month of August (new items I bought and loved):
*Microvawe ready Quinoa Bowls. Did you know Quinoa is considered the “supergrain of the future?” It’s one of the most protein-rich foods we can eat, containing all nine essential amino acids.

*Angie’s Delightfully Different Kettle Corn. They’re individually packaged popcorn bags with no high-fructose corn syrup, no trans fat, no cholesterol and only a handful of simple ingredients

*Stretch Island Fruit Co. All Natural Fruit Strips. There’s nearly 50 bars in the box and only 45 calories per fruit strip; they’re delicious and a great way to stop that sweet tooth anxiety.

*Caramelized Onion Chicken Burgers. They’re delicious and placed on top of a bed of salad, and next to a bowl of quinoa, make for a perfect dinner meal prepared within minutes. Best of all, they're fully cooked and microwaveable!

It probably won’t be another few weeks before our next trip to Costco but for now, these little treats are surely making me smile (yum!).

Monday, August 5, 2013

Birth of the Royal Baby

The moment it was announced to the world that Prince George Alexander Louis had been born, I was ecstatic (joy!).
First of all, I am captivated by British Royalty and the history of Kings and Queens inGreat Britain and more importantly, the news of the birth of a child makes me incredibly excited…probably because going through childbirth is still fairly recent in my life.

And to add validation to my love for all things Royal, I shall mention that my home office is themed to highlight British Royalty, including porcelain dolls of beloved princesses, miniature tea sets and many crown fixtures throughout the room.

When I was in London in 2011, I had no choice but to splurge at the Royal Palace’s gift shop, where I bought the official commemorative wedding plate of the marriage of Prince William to Cathryn Middleton, and other amazing little mementos.

Needless to say, the birth of a future King was something I had been following and waited for, with anticipation.
I was happy to find out the baby boy was born with good health and that mommy Kate is currently nursing her little Prince…(made me think of the few, but well-lived months I did the same for Benny).
And in celebration of the birth of Prince George Alexander Louis, I went out to buy Benny a toy that would commemorate the occasion.

At Toys R Us, I found that FAO Schwartz has produced a line of what seems to be British-themed toys. So I bought him a wooden toy soldier, which, we'll appropriately label the Commemorative Wooden Toy Prince George Alexander Louis British Royal Guard. It was on sale for $6.99!

Benny was amused and enjoyed his new toy for about 15 minutes before getting distracted with a set of keys sitting on the living room coffee table (typical).
Congratulations to the Royal Family! May the Future King of England be raised to become a great, fair and trusting leader (but for now, long live the Queen!).

Sunday, August 4, 2013

The City of Baldwin Park, CA

The city of Baldwin Park is the Hub of the San Gabriel Valley (that’s city's official city motto). It’s population is mostly Hispanic (80% Hispanic or Latino, according to the 2010 Census) and it’s the home of the first In-N-Out Burger restaurant!

It’s also the city I call home and while it may not always be the safest town or feature the cleanest streets and neighborhoods, it's where I live and for that reason alone, I gotta love Baldwin Park!

A taco stand outside of a local shopping center keeps patrons returning for more!
On August 3rd, the city of Baldwin Park hosted the Pride of the Valley 5K and guess who had to sign up and run with other fellow residents?? Drum roll, please….me!

Early morning stretch before race time

It was a fun gathering at Morgan Park, where several hundred people (mostly high school students) got up early to run the 3 mile course through various city streets. I had so much fun during this race, I am forcing Paul to run it with me next year.

Baldwin Park was named after a prominent investor names Elias Jackson Baldwin, who was actually sued by four women in the 1880’s for breach of marriage and seduction, among other adultery type charges!! Role model, much?
Anyhow, in 1948, California saw it’s first drive-thru diner open its doors in none other than Baldwin Park! It was a small burger joint named “In-N-Out” owned and operated by Harry & Esther Snyder and currently run by their granddaughter Lynsi Torres (who reportedly purchased a $17 million Mansion recently and reports to work everyday at the corporate in Baldwin Park).

Baldwin Park also boasts other great eateries including the popular Guadalajara Grill featuring Mariachi music, nightly. My favorite though is Juan’s Restaurant, an often overlooked restaurant that serves amazing prehispanic Mexican favorites such as the famous Mexican Mole and Nopal Flan.
The next time you’re driving on the 10 Freeway, you should stop by Baldwin Park. If anything, you can check out Hamburger Lane, the street where In-N-Out’s Meat Processing & Fleet Maintenance Plants are located (I think it should have been Cheeseburger Lane, but that's just a personal preference!).

Saturday, August 3, 2013

The Tickle Monster Laugh Kit

This funny, cutesy book was a gift to Benny from my high school counselor and good friend, Shirleen Armstrong (who still inspires me and makes me laugh just like the first day we met).

Benny loves it because mommy makes it a point to read it aloud using strange, funny, monster voices and most importantly, because I tickle him wearing the monster gloves that come along with the book!

The story is about a blue furry monster from Planet Tickle who descends on Planet Earth to bring joy and laughter to the children…Too cute!

The pages are wonderfully illustrated and the author, Josie Bissett, is none other than the girl who played Jane Mancini on the television series Melrose Place…anybody?
Well if you don’t remember her, it’s ok. You can get to know her through her fantastic little blog:
And back to the book, it can be ordered online through Barnes& for $34.95 (tickle monster hands included).
It makes for a fun bedtime story because you can read it to your babies, make them laugh and put them to sleep. When it’s your turn to go to bed, you’ll have the sweet memory of their little giggles (fun)!